Leonard Nimoy Explains ‘Live Long And Prosper’ Origins [Video]

Leonard Nimoy died Friday in Lost Angeles. Nimoy was a poet, musician, and photographer, as well as an actor, but he will perhaps always be remembered as Spock, the logical alien in the Star Trek franchise. The New York Times notes that the titles of two autobiographies by Nimoy — I Am Not Spock in 1977 and I Am Spock in 1995 — exemplified his association with the character. In the first book, he expressed his appreciation for what Spock gave him as an actor.

“In Spock, I finally found the best of both worlds: to be widely accepted in public approval and yet be able to continue to play the insulated alien through the Vulcan character.”

Spock’s signature line was “live long and prosper,” accompanied by a distinctive hand gesture: four fingers in the form of a “V.” As Nimoy describes in the video below, the enduring symbol had its origins in an impactful childhood memory. Told not to look at the men giving a blessing to a congregation, Nimoy peeked and saw them with their arms outstretched, hands in the “V” formation.

KTLA explained that Nimoy was raised as the son of Russian immigrants and was reared in an Orthodox Jewish family. The class of priests Nimoy had witnessed giving the blessing as a child is called the “kohanim.” Although Nimoy said writer Theodore Sturgeon came up with the phrase “live long and prosper,” it was also derived from a blessing.

Nimoy most recently appeared as Spock in the reboots of the Star Trek films, including Star Trek: Into Darkness. Zachary Quinto has taken on the role of Spock in the new versions of the films. A new Star Trek film is set for summer production with director Justin Lin.

Tributes to Nimoy have been coming in over social media from both fans and co-stars. The Guardian published the emotional words of William Shatner, who joined Nimoy in the Star Trek iconography.

“I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love.”

George Takei, who played Sulu, also had kind words for the late Nimoy.

“I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to ‘Live Long And Prosper,’ and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways.”

Nimoy stopped smoking more than three decades ago. His death was attributed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83.

[Leonard Nimoy image courtesy of Getty]